Reviews in Cardiovascular Medicine (RCM) is published by IMR Press from Volume 19 Issue 1 (2018). Previous articles were published by another publisher in Open Access under a CC-BY (or CC-BY-NC-ND) licence, and they are hosted by IMR Press on imrpress.com as a courtesy and upon agreement with MedReviews, LLC.
Cite this article
Altitude plays an important role in cardiovascular performance and training for athletes. Whether it is mountaineers, skiers, or sea-level athletes trying to gain an edge by training or living at increased altitude, there are many potential benefits and harms of such endeavors. Echocardiographic studies done on athletes at increased altitude have shown evidence for right ventricular dysfunction and pulmonary hypertension, but no change in left ventricular ejection fraction. In addition, 10% of athletes are susceptible to pulmonary hypertension and high-altitude pulmonary edema. Some studies suggest that echocardiography may be able to identify athletes susceptible to high-altitude pulmonary edema prior to competing or training at increased altitudes. Further research is needed on the long-term effects of altitude training, as repeated, transient episodes of pulmonary hypertension and right ventricular dysfunction may have long-term implications. Current literature suggests that performance athletes are not at higher risk for ventricular arrhythmias when training or competing at increased altitudes. For sea-level athletes, the optimal strategy for attaining the benefits while minimizing the harms of altitude training still needs to be clarified, although—for now—the “live high, train low” approach appears to have the most rationale.